Anthony Bell Talks Alpha and Omega
A different kind of animated road trip from Open Season creator Steve Moore occurs in Alpha and Omega (opening today from Crest Animation/Lionsgate). Here we have a love story between alpha and omega wolves from warring packs: Kate (Hayden Panettiere) is definitely a serious leader, while Humphrey (Justin Long) is more a laid-back sort, but, together, they need to make it back to home after being abducted to Idaho. Director Anthony Bell, a CalArts grad and TV vet (The Boondocks and Rugrats) talks about the challenges of keeping ahead of the curve with CG and 3-D.
Bill Desowitz: What attracted you to Alpha and Omega?
Anthony Bell: The story had heart. I gravitate to projects that speak to me in terms of emotion. It had a social message about differences being our strength instead of our weakness, but it was expressed in a really fun and entertaining way, not preachy, and I thought this was something I've gotta work on.
BD: There's obviously something very African Queen about it.
AB: You nailed it on the head because The African Queen is something that definitely inspired us. We looked at that. In terms of looking at other animated films, we wanted to do something unique so we veered away from copying anything animated.
AB: We wanted to find a style that stood out from the other studios, so we took a graphic approach with the characters themselves. In terms of art direction on the backgrounds, instead of making a fantasy world, we wanted to make a world where people would want to visit because of the beauty. We didn't want something whimsical or abstract. We thought the two would marry together nicely.
BD: What was the animation process like having Crest Animation in India and LA?
AB: Crest Animation in India is our parent company so what's unique about this and what I enjoyed -- especially coming from TV where they send things overseas and it's by the book -- is that it was like working with an extension of the same studio. A lot of thought went into this and if something didn't work, they would flesh it out and make sure it was the best it could be. We'd go over there and spend time with them and go over the nuances of the animation.
BD: Did they do all of the animation in India?
AB: Yes, they would do the physical animation but would send blocking scenes here and we had a small crew here that would go over the blocking and do tweaks and offer suggestions. It was very collaborative.
BD: What kind of a toolset do they have?